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Dissecting a lesson: talking about a family

Here is a French resource with a lesson sequence and comments based on the topic of family. It would suit a class of reasonably motivated near-beginners who have already done some groundwork on family vocabulary. You could use it as an introduction to the topic with a high-attaining group.

This type of lesson would be typical of the oral-situational approach (adapted direct method) with elements of imaginative storytelling and communicative language teaching. You need to make the language as comprehensible as possible, probably with a little recourse to translation from time to time to make sure this is the case.

As you look through this plan, consider how many repetitions students are hearing, reading and saying.

1. First, display a picture of a family (it’s easy to find copyright-free ones on pixabay.com). Tell the class it’s up to them to invent the details you are going to ask them about. As answers come, write them up on the board. You might find it suitable to use a picture of your own family!

Here are some questions you can use or adapt. As you elicit answers you can repeat them, alter them a bit and get students to repeat chorally to maximise the listening input. Some classes might need sentence starter prompts to help, e.g. “Il s’appelle...”


1.​Comment s’appelle la famille? (C’est la famille….)
2.​Comment s’appelle la mère?
3.​Comment s’appelle le père ?
4.​Comment s’appellent les enfants ?
5.​Quel âge a le père ? Et la mère ?
6.​Quel âge ont les enfants ? (Ils…)
7.​Est-ce qu’ils habitent en Angleterre ? (Non, ils….)
8.​Où est-ce qu’ils habitent exactement ?
8.​Ils habitent dans un appartement ?
7.​Est-ce que le père travaille dans une banque ?
8.​Est-ce que la mère travaille dans une école ?
9.​Qu’est-ce que le père aime comme activités ?
10.​Et la mère ?
11.​Qu’est-ce que les deux filles aiment faire ?
12.​Est-ce que le père préfère le sport ou la musique ?
13.​Est-ce que les enfants préfèrent la télé ou la console ?
14.​Est-ce qu’ils ont un animal à la maison ? (Oui, ils ont…)
15.​Comment s’appelle l’animal ?


2. Conversation

When you think the class is ready to move on (around 15-20 minutes later) you could try this:

Tell the class that with a partner in five minutes each person must write some brief notes in English about a similar imaginary family. Students must hide their notes from their partners.

Then they ask each other the same questions as above, displayed on the board, and take notes based on what their partner says.

You can go round monitoring this, answering the occasional question. I wouldn’t worry too much about errors at this point.

You could get some feedback after around 10 minutes.


3. Reading reinforcement

Print off this text and distribute and display on the board.

La famille Leblanc habite une maison à Toulouse en France. Il ya quatre personnes dans la famille. Le père s’appelle Jacques et la mère s’appelle Catherine. Ils ont deux enfants qui s’appellent Alain et Marie-Hélène. Jacques a trente-cinq ans et Catherine a trente-trois ans. Alain a onze ans et Marie-Hélène a neuf ans.

Alain travaille dans un magasin dans le centre de Toulouse. Catherine travaille dans une banque. Alain aime les ordinateurs et la musique classique. Catherine préfère le sport et le shopping.

Alain adore jouer sur la console et Marie-Hélène aime les dessins animés à la télé. La famille a un chat qui s’appelle Martin.

Work orally on the questions below. Tell students to take notes as they hear the answers. Check that they have time to do this. They can use these notes subsequently to write out their full sentence answers, possibly at home.

Questions

1.​Comment s’appelle la famille ?
2.​Ils habitent en France ou en Angleterre ?
3.​Ils habitent dans un appartement ?
4.​Comment s’appellent les parents ? (Ils…)
5.​Quel âge a Alain ? Et Marie-Hélène ?
6.​Alain travaille dans une banque ?
7.​Catherine aime les ordinateurs ?
8.​Alain adore les dessins animés à la télé ?
9.​Est-ce que la famille a un chat ou un chien ?
10.​Comment s’appelle l’animal ?


4. Complétez le texte

Now, for further recycling of the language they can do the following.

Without looking at the original description try to complete this passage using the words in the box beneath it.


La _______ Leblanc habite une maison à Toulouse en France. Il y ______ personnes dans la famille. Le père s’appelle Jacques et la mère s’appelle _________. Ils ont deux _______ qui s’appellent Alain et Marie-Hélène. Jacques a trente-cinq ___ et Catherine a trente-trois ans. Alain a onze ans et Marie-Hélène a ____ ans.

Alain travaille dans un _______ dans le centre de Toulouse. Catherine travaille dans une ______. Alain aime les ordinateurs et la musique classique. Catherine préfère le _____ et le shopping.

Alain adore jouer sur la console et Marie-Hélène aime les _______ animés à la ____.

La famille a un chat qui s’appelle ______.



Notes

At the initial questioning stage I would do lots of group and individual repetition at this stage. I would let the pupil see the questions too to support meaning and establish better sound/spelling links.

After question-answer maybe stronger students could summarise back, stringing a few answers to together. You might supply the odd bit of lexical or grammatical “focus on form” here and there. The correct spelling of “s’appelle” is worth stressing, for example.

During the pair work conversation task expect questions. Insist on virtually no English.

The famille Leblanc text could be used for reading aloud and pronunciation work. You could translate it for the class or get them to do so.

As a further task pupils could find a picture of another family or their own and write a description based on the models above. They could record it on to a digital recorder.




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